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Workplace policies, by Marilyn Davy

In these exceptional times it is more important than ever to review workplace policies and procedures. Maybe there have been some changes in how you work since COVID19, lockdowns and the various levels.

Why is it important to have workplace policies and procedures?

Policies work alongside employment agreements to make sure both the employer and employee are clear on the expectations and obligations of the employment relationship. They tell your workers what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you.

It is important to have clear and consistent workplace policies and procedures.

They need to be in plain English, simple to understand and match your workplace values and culture and consistent with your employment agreement. Ask yourself “Is the policy fair and reasonable?” Review your policies and procedures at least once a year to check they are still up to date, maybe there has been a legal change e.g. parental leave change.

Procedures should explain how things are to be done and linked to a policy.

Policies should not just be discussed as part of your recruitment and induction process. You should check staff understand what the policies mean by talking about them in team meetings, having them accessible, maybe copies in the lunchroom and generally talked about on an ongoing basis. You are more likely to get buy in and a better understanding if you consult with staff.

Essential policies are Health and Safety, Employee Wellbeing, Drug and Alcohol, Code of Conduct, Leave and Holidays.

The Employee Wellbeing policy should consider emotional, physical, social, career and financial wellbeing. A good Wellbeing policy should reduce stress in the workplace and help with overall staff happiness and engagement. Staff wellbeing is particularly important in these times of uncertainty.

There is useful information on the covid19.govt.nz website.

The Leave and Holiday policy should cover managing sick leave, parental leave, leave without pay, long service leave, public holidays etc. A good policy should reduce the risk that anyone misunderstands the conditions of employment.

Other useful policies depending on your business could be Study Leave, Flexible work (including working from home), Privacy and Confidentiality, Dress and Appearance, Social Media and Use of Technology.

We have recently reviewed our Flexible work policy and updated our working from home policy. More people are now working remotely from home and have flexible work arrangements that promote a better work life balance.

Well written policies outline the benefits and entitlements for staff, save your business time and money and help build great relationships with staff. They will help you comply with your obligations as an employer and reduce misunderstandings that can lead to disputes.

You can’t expect staff to follow the rules if they don’t know and understand them.

Business.govt.nz and Employment NZ have launched the Workplace Policy Builder to help you easily and effectively create policies tailored to your business.

https://wpb.business.govt.nz/workplacepolicybuilder/startscreen/

The tool guides you through steps to create policies tailored to your business. A policy can be as short or as detailed as you need.

Remember that good staff are your most important asset.

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